The real estate roller coaster of the last decade has resulted in a market flooded with inventory and one now starved for inventory. Some sellers are exploiting this; others sit and ask “why doesn’t my home sell”? The reason(s) why a home fails to sell are not a mystery. Selling a home is not splitting an atom; when the three key factors are aligned (price-appeal-exposure), homes sell. Heavily influencing this is the seller’s choice of listing agent; not understanding how to choose a real estate agent can immediately taint a listing, costing the seller both time and money.
Ineffective / Opportunity Listing Agents
- The bane of this industry is alive and well – the part time real estate agent. If your agent doesn’t have a well established resume of transactions and is not full time (as in earning a living), there will be problems.
- The discount brokers are another siren song. It is very very hard to effectively market a home and keep everything in order for $500. There’s a reason that so many of these listings never sell. Most of these companies make their money generating buyer leads from the listings, not selling them.
- Yes Ma’am / Yes Sir agents remain very active. They enter with “Sunshine Day” (Brady Bunch tune) as their theme song agree with whatever the seller says. This agent cares less about the data and just wants the listing. When it hits the fan later on, they say “the market has changed”.
Poor Exposure / Poor Responsiveness
- Studies show that over half of the time, buyers find a property BEFORE an agent does. That’s perfectly logical given the growth of the internet, real estate portals and mobile computing. Listings that lack a full complement of photos, compelling narrative, robust descriptions, have poor photos and no calls to action are “web white noise”. No one sees or cares about them.
- We are an instant gratification society so what happens when an agent’s voice mail drones on about “calls received after 5pm will be returned the next day”. CLICK & DIAL TONE
- Same for agents and emails. How many fail to regularly check email (say every 15 minutes), don’t have mobile computing ability or know how to use digital signature software? How many fail to pick up the phone when it rings or return texts when received?
- Sellers have to expect sudden calls and unexpected visits. Many times this in unavoidable; buyers in a community see a sign and want to see the house. Sellers should always try to accommodate those visits; there may not be another shot.
Appeal / Showing Condition
- If the home needs work, get it done. If the home is a pigsty, clean it. If the home looks like self-storage garage, declutter. Make the home shine as best you can, if that’s not obvious then deeper problems likely exist.
- Sellers facing adverse external factors (roads, rails, commercial influences, declining areas) face a challenge that is often out of their control. In cases like this, the adverse impact needs to be isolated and price adjusted accordingly. There is a price for every issue.
- Sellers facing functional obsolescence issues have to run a details “cost benefit” analysis and determine if cost of curing the situation will be recovered in the sale. That’s a call that varies depending on the circumstances.
- This most often the reason that a home fails to sell. Few owners can be completely objective and answer “what’s my home worth”? Most friends cannot, many agents will not….but the buyers certainly can. The professional agents and appraisers certainly can and will be. It takes minutes to run comps and eliminate overprice homes from the list right from the desk top.
- “Testing the market” can work if the test is based in reality. Legitimate closed sales to support the logic must be present; the agent must be able to speak intelligently with other agents and the appraiser. The owner must know when the “test” has failed; two weeks in this market is the test period.
- The buyers do not care what the home was purchased for or what owners think. There is no dollar for dollar return, there are no guarantees. Buyers, their agents and appraisers do not care about opinions, they care about data.
- Failing to acknowledge the market extends the listing period, results in steady reductions and can result in an expired listing. Relisted homes tend to attract the “why didn’t it sell before” question – and when inventory is scarce and a home doesn’t sell….the stigma takes hold.
- It’s been repeated and it’s been demonstrated; properly priced homes end up selling faster and with a higher sale to list ratio than those that are overpriced and languish. In tight markets, multiple offer situations occur with well-presented and accurately priced homes; this is something a seller can leverage to their advantage.
The key to successfully selling a home is simply being objective; assume the role of the buyer and objectively view the market and how the home compares. Surround yourself with experts and despite the pathetic public perception of agents (and not entirely undeserved), there are pros out there to lean on. A last word of caution; this business appears simple and the debate over paying fees will forever reign. But make no mistake about it; for it to look as simple as many think this is, a significant amount of work is required by the professional agents involved. When things go bad in real estate they REALLY go bad.
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